More than 8,000 earthquakes have been measured on the Reykjanes peninsula since the end of January RÚV reports. Kristín Jónsdóttir, the earthquake hazards co-ordinator at the Icelandic Met Office, says there is an increased likeliness of an earthquake measuring 6 or more in the near future, the impact of which would be felt as far as Reykjavík. Capital area residents are, therefore, warned to secure their furnishings and household items.
An earthquake measuring 3.2 occurred on Saturday morning near Grindavík; another smaller quake had been felt in the same area less than a half-hour before. The land in the surrounding area has risen ten centimetres (3.9 inches) since the end of January, with an increase of three centimetres (1.2 inches) in just the last ten days. “It’s still rising,” says Kristín. “There seems to still be an inflow of magma into the crust 3-4km (1.9-2.5mi) beneath the surface.” There’s currently no sign that this magma is moving toward the surface, although a new magma deposit has now collected west of the Reykjanes peninsula. There are now three such deposits in the area. Kristín says this is the first time that magma deposits have been so clearly discernible on measuring devices and satellite images. The new magma deposit is considerably deeper than the other two that are located near Mt. Þórbjörn.
For now, however, it’s not a volcanic eruption that Reykjanes and capital area residents need to prepare for, but rather an imminent earthquake. “It’s happened before that such big earthquakes have travelled all the way across the Reykjanes peninsula. There have also been bigger quakes, which we are preparing ourselves for the possibility of. Here I’m talking about the earthquakes the occurred around Brennisteinsfjöll mountain ridge in 1929 and 1968. These were quakes that were just over 6 [on the Richter scale]. Quakes like this could have an impact on the capital area.” The rift that seismologists are particularly concerned about is only 15-20km (9.3-12.4mi) from the capital area, says Kristín.
The vast majority of homes in Iceland are built to withstand earthquakes of this magnitude, but Kristín encourages residents to use all the extra time they’re spending indoors to take necessary precautions around the house and prepare for the likeliness of an earthquake.